As most of my readers know, I’ve written a dark fantasy novel about a vampire entitled “Drasmyr.” Talk of vampires almost always engenders talk of immortality, because that’s usually considered one of the advantages of being a vampire: they don’t die of old age. In my novel, the vampire is one thousand years old. I’ve read/seen other works where the vampire in question is 6000 or 10,000 years old or what-have-you. Generally, the age seems to be limited to several thousand years. I’ve never seen anything about a 5 million year old vampire or anything like that. But why not? There is no physical reason why a vampire could not be that old, if vampires are gifted with immortality.
I suppose one reason is that human civilization—or the historical record of such—only goes back several thousand years. Vampires are usually associated with civilized man. They are a tale of terror for those who huddle together on the edges of the night, thinking they are safe in their home, surrounded by others similarly secure. As vampires can appear human, though, this security is an illusion; a vampire can infiltrate a city or village and strike with ruthless savagery.
Likewise, according to most traditions vampires come from humans; they are the result of a human being bitten by a vampire, dying, and transforming into a creature of the night. In order for this to happen, there need to be humans around who can be bit. It makes no sense to have a vampire that’s been around since the dinosaurs, because there were no humans around at that time.
Basically, I think 1000 to 10,000 years is the sweet spot for a vampire’s age (Dracula, of course, was only 400 years old—he’s outside the sweet spot, but he’s cool anyway). This gives them a good sense of timelessness, basically dwarfing a human’s lifespan without being too ridiculous about it. There is still that sense of a connection between themselves and their prey, for once, a long, long time ago, they were human themselves.
Anything above 10,000 years, in my opinion, is just excessive and runs the risk of starting a bidding war on vampire ages. My vampire is 20,000 years old. My vampire is 50,000. Oh yeah, mine is 300,000,000. Hmmph… 5 Billion. Two Trillion… at which point we have vampires older than the universe. In the end, age is just a number for one of the undead; what really makes them cool is the powers they wield and their respective personalities.
“Drasmyr” was the first novel I ever wrote. It tells the story of a traditional gothic vampire in a fantasy world of wizards and warriors. It’s kind of like Dracula set in Middle-Earth. I wrote it stream-of-consciousness about seventeen, or so, years ago. Since then, it’s been edited and re-edited, and finally self-published. The events of the entire novel take place over roughly a week’s worth of time. Most novels span months and years of time telling the story of a character and how he or she changes throughout. Not mine. Just a week. The reason it occurs over such a short time period is because it was written stream-of-consciousness without detailed plotting beforehand. Things just ran together, and events built from one to the next. The end result was fine, but if I want to expand it into something of an epic fantasy tale (which I do), I’ll have to expand the timeline a bit. Most epics don’t take place over the course of a month.
I’m currently working on the follow-up novel, “The Children of Lubrochius.” For this one, I’ve expanded the timeline to a whole season or so, about three months. At least, that’s the plan. But managing the timelines of the various characters and their activities is difficult. As I did not plot the whole thing out in detail before I wrote it (I used the hybrid plotting/pantsing approach), I’ve been running into some difficulties of late and they are mostly with respect to the timeline. It’s not that I have event B taking place before event A that caused it, or anything quite so serious, it’s just sometimes, since there are multiple story threads, I find one character or another sitting on his thumbs for a week or more when the others are going about their business. I could solve the issue by collapsing the timeline, so that everything took place over the course of a week or two, but I don’t want to do it that way. I’m sure I can resolve the issue with a little effort, but it is worth noting for the lesson it teaches: do the timeline before you write the story! Duh! So much for the pantsing approach. In the future, I will add far more structure to my pre-writing plotting. That will save me some headaches. But I suppose it’s a learn-as-you-write type of thing.
Of course, most readers probably wouldn’t notice the difficulties inherent in the timeline. I know for myself, not once in my life have I gone through a book with a fine toothed comb to sketch out the timeline of the story in detail. I just get caught up in the events and get swept away… or bored out of my skull as the case may be. As long as events follow each other in the appropriate chronological order, I think I’m reasonably okay. Still, it pays to be thorough. I will fix what I can. And I will have proofreaders.
I guess what I’m saying is: The more I write, the more I find myself shifting to the plotting-beforehand approach. Timelines are a part of this. They give structure to a story and they should not be overlooked. Maybe the reader won’t notice minor discrepancies, but it could be disaster if they do.
“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is a fantasy, adventure film set during the time of the height of the Persian Empire. It, like several other movies in recent years, is based on a computer game. Nevertheless, it delivers a solid film experience. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the hero, Dastan, Gemma Arterton plays the beautiful heroine, Tamina, and Ben Kingsley plays the villain, Nizam, brother and cupbearer of King Sharaman.
The movie begins in a sort of Aladdin-esque way, with the young Dastan living on the streets causing problems for the guards. But things change quickly, and because of an act of extreme courage, Dastan finds himself taken into the home of King Sharaman who adopts him as a son. Fast forward a decade or so. The heir to the throne, Prince Tus, is misled to attack a holy city and is successful due to the efforts of Prince Dastan. However, things are not what they seem, and soon, Prince Dastan finds himself on the run with the beautiful Princess Tamina, accused of murdering King Sharaman. At first, Dastan is prepared to go to any length to prove his innocence, but soon finds out that much more is on the line than a simple assassination would make it seem. Indeed, the fate of the whole world may be at stake.
Overall, this was an excellent movie… assuming you can accept the whole time-traveling bit. The special effects were superb. The acting was good. And the story was intriguing and easy to follow. All good things. It was made by Disney, so it is family-friendly.
It wasn’t a pinnacle of cinematic glory, but I can’t think of any major flaws in it. I liked it enough that I bought it and I throw it in the old DVD player periodically.
Anyway, I’ll give it a solid four and a half out of five stars.